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Into Space 2 – Launch and pilot your very own upgradable spacecraft in an exceedingly original launch game
In terms of its portrayal by the media throughout the years, space exploration was once on the tip of everyone’s tongues and was the marker of a nation’s economic and technological superiority over one another. Once we got to the moon, however, it all went downhill from there since all you could really do was jump around a bit and stare wistfully back at earth and come to the realisation of how tiny and insignificant space exploration – and indeed life in general – is. Instead of being sad about the inconsequential nature of our existence, it may be more fun to get your brains around Into Space 2, a vertical-scroll launch title from Barbarian Games.
The objective of Into Space 2 should be clear from the title, but just in case simple deduction isn’t your thing, the game involves the process of launching an aircraft into space by controlling its every move, collecting various items along the way and launching to as high of an altitude as you can manage before crashing down to earth, or perhaps even making it to your intended destination of Mars. In spite of the fairly elaborate design, the controls of the game are relatively simple since you use either the directional arrows or WASD keys to control the movement of your craft. The upwards arrow or ‘W’ key activates your thrusters, the downwards arrow or ‘S’ key shuts off your craft and makes it a little easier to manoeuvre and change direction. The direction of your craft is controlled with the left and right arrows or ‘A’ and ‘D’ keys.
Things are made interesting through the ability to pick up bonuses on your journey such as money and fuel power-ups. Lightning strikes are to be avoided like, well, real-life lightning strikes; they don’t exactly cause instant death or third degree burns or anything, but they do interfere with your engine by turning it off while also causing damage to your craft in general. Damage is also caused by smashing into obstructive objects in general. The speed of your spacecraft can actually be increased by flying between special gates that you will occasionally encounter, making the game a little like an elaborate and very expensive air-slalom where you travel towards space instead of down a slope.
Further differentiation from the launch-game norm is achieved through the comprehensive list of power-ups and upgrades to your spacecraft that can be purchased with the money that you collect on each run after unlocking them during the game. New boosters, fins, and engines of increasing power and quality can be purchased to improve your space-flight experience, and miscellaneous peripheral upgrades can also be slapped on to your craft for the right price; these include fuel upgrades to increase your efficiency, lightning protection, and money bonuses to ensure that you collect more scratch on every run.
One thing I will say about the game is that it takes an initial period of what I like to call ‘starter’s patience’ in order to grind for cash to be able to afford to upgrade your initially embarrassing spacecraft, which barely has the legs to get you off the ground. The whole experience starts off a little slowly, but the line on the fun graph rises sharply once you begin to upgrade your spacecraft enough to make it travel further than 10 meters on the vertical plane.
Success by Design?
The design of the game is fairly elaborate, going above and beyond the average launch game by providing you with a fancy heads-up display that indicates various stats and information about your flight such as a vertical and actual speedometer, the temperature and fuel level of your boosters, an altimeter, and the location of various checkpoints, with the latter being exclusive to the game and unlikely to make an appearance in any actual spacecraft in the real world. Everything from the clipboard-style menus between runs to the spacecraft itself is designed extremely well, with some elaborate textures making for some remarkably slick-looking models and a well-put-together aesthetic in general.
Into Space 2 offers a fresh take on the launch-game genre in terms of its impressive design, unusual vertical trajectory(as opposed to the usual diagonal or horizontal trajectory that is indicative of most launch games), and considerable quantity of upgrades that can be applied to your spacecraft to gradually improve the experience. It’s just a shame that your initial craft is so incredibly basic, requiring you to do some tedious grinding for cash before you can upgrade it into a ride that you can actually have fun piloting. The handling of the aircraft is a little sluggish as well, so this may take some getting used to.